B-166186, MAR. 26, 1969

B-166186: Mar 26, 1969

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HARRISON: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 16. TO HAVE BEEN MADE IN ITS BID UPON WHICH PURCHASE ORDER NO. 197 69 WAS AWARDED. EACH BOOK TO HAVE PART I AND PART II SEPARATED BY A BLANK BLUE SHEET OF PAPER. FOUR BIDS WERE RECEIVED ON JACKET NO. 960-623. THE LOWEST BID IN THE AMOUNT OF $876.80 WAS SUBMITTED BY THE EFFICIENT PRINTING AND MAILING CORP. THE THREE OTHER BIDS WERE IN THE AMOUNTS OF $1. IT IS REPORTED THAT PRIOR TO MAKING AN AWARD. THE BID OF EFFICIENT PRINTING WAS ACCEPTED ON SEPTEMBER 25. PURCHASE ORDER NO. 197-69 WAS ISSUED TO THE CORPORATION ON THE SAME DAY. IT IS REPORTED THAT UPON RECEIPT OF THE PURCHASE ORDER. EFFICIENT PRINTING STATED "THE ERROR WAS THE MIX UP IN THE FACT THAT PART 1 AND PART 2 WERE IN EACH OF 2 BOOKS.

B-166186, MAR. 26, 1969

TO MR. HARRISON:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 16, 1968, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE ACTION TO BE TAKEN CONCERNING AN ERROR ALLEGED BY THE EFFICIENT PRINTING AND MAILING CORP. TO HAVE BEEN MADE IN ITS BID UPON WHICH PURCHASE ORDER NO. 197 69 WAS AWARDED.

THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE (GPO), NEW YORK FIELD SERVICE OFFICE, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, REQUESTED BIDS UNDER JACKET NO. 960-623 FOR FURNISHING THE FOLLOWING BLANK BOOKS: "PRINT 400 COPIES EACH OF 2 LOTS. EACH BOOK TO HAVE PART I AND PART II SEPARATED BY A BLANK BLUE SHEET OF PAPER. FINISHED SIZE OF BOOKS TO BE 11 X 8-1/2. IMAGE SIZE TO REDUCE TO 7-1/2 INCHES DEEP ON ALL PAGES WITH WIDE MARGINS ON RIGHT SIDE OF ALL PAGES, 3/4 INCH MARGIN ON LEFT SIDE. GBC BINDING, BLACK COMBS, BINDING ON 8-1/2 INCH SIDE. BODY PRINTS 2 SIDES ON 50 LB. WHITE OFFSET (JCP A-60 SPECIFICATIONS). COVER PRINTS 1 SIDE ON 65 LB. ANTIQUE GRAY COVER STOCK (JCP L-20 SPECIFICATIONS). BACK COVER BLANK. ALL BLACK INK. "FIRST LOT - PART I - 72 PAGES EQUALS 36 LEAVES

PART II - 72 PAGES EQUALS 36 LEAVES "SECOND LOT - PART I - 77 PAGES AND 1 BLANK EQUALS 39 LEAVES

PART II - 76 PAGES AND 1 BLANK EQUALS 38 LEAVES "PLUS 1 PAGE MORE FOR EACH FRONT COVER.'

FOUR BIDS WERE RECEIVED ON JACKET NO. 960-623. THE LOWEST BID IN THE AMOUNT OF $876.80 WAS SUBMITTED BY THE EFFICIENT PRINTING AND MAILING CORP. THE THREE OTHER BIDS WERE IN THE AMOUNTS OF $1,235.10, $1,244.95, AND $2,345. IT IS REPORTED THAT PRIOR TO MAKING AN AWARD, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER INQUIRED OF THE EFFICIENT PRINTING AND MAILING CORP. BY TELEPHONE IF THE JOB COULD BE DONE BY THE CORPORATION AT THE PRICE SPECIFIED IN ITS BID AND THAT THE CORPORATION'S REPRESENTATIVE CONFIRMED THAT THE JOB COULD BE DONE AT THE PRICE SPECIFIED IN THE BID. THE BID OF EFFICIENT PRINTING WAS ACCEPTED ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1968, AND PURCHASE ORDER NO. 197-69 WAS ISSUED TO THE CORPORATION ON THE SAME DAY.

IT IS REPORTED THAT UPON RECEIPT OF THE PURCHASE ORDER, A REPRESENTATIVE OF EFFICIENT PRINTING TELEPHONED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ALLEGING THAT AN ERROR HAD BEEN MADE IN THE CORPORATION'S BID DUE TO HIS MISINTERPRETATION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS. IN A CONFIRMING LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 30, 1968, IN WHICH IT STATED IT COULD NOT ACCEPT THE PURCHASE ORDER, EFFICIENT PRINTING STATED "THE ERROR WAS THE MIX UP IN THE FACT THAT PART 1 AND PART 2 WERE IN EACH OF 2 BOOKS. IT WAS OUR ERRONEOUS IMPRESSION THAT 400 BOOKS WERE TO BE REPRODUCED FOR PART 1 AND ANOTHER 400 BOOKS FOR PART NUMBER 2.' THE CORPORATION STATED THAT IF THE PRICE FOR THE JOB HAD BEEN PROPERLY COMPUTED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN $1,678.

YOU STATE THAT THE MANAGER OF THE NEW YORK FIELD SERVICE OFFICE, WHO IS ALSO THE CONTRACTING OFFICER, AT THE REQUEST OF EFFICIENT PRINTING, CANCELED PURCHASE ORDER NO. 197-69 AND THAT SUCH ACTION WAS BASED ON HIS OPINION THAT IT WOULD BE UNCONSCIONABLE TO REQUIRE THE CORPORATION TO PERFORM THE JOB AT ITS ORIGINAL BID PRICE OF $876.80. YOU ALSO STATE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS RECOMMENDED THAT EFFICIENT PRINTING BE RELIEVED OF ANY LIABILITY ACCRUING AS A RESULT OF THE AWARD TO THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER.

GENERALLY, AWARD OF A CONTRACT FOLLOWING VERIFICATION OF THE BID UPON REQUEST OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER RESULTS IN A BINDING CONTRACT. COMP. GEN. 942, 947; 27 ID. 17. NEVERTHELESS, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CANNOT DISCHARGE HIS VERIFICATION DUTY MERELY BY REQUESTING CONFIRMATION OF THE BID PRICE -- THE GOVERNMENT MUST APPRISE THE BIDDER OF THE MISTAKE WHICH IS SUSPECTED AND THE BASIS FOR SUCH SUSPICION. SEE B-154955, AUGUST 26, 1964; B-144238, OCTOBER 28, 1960; 35 COMP. GEN. 136; 39 ID. 405, 407. SEE ALSO UNITED STATES V METRO NOVELTY MANUFACTURING CO., INC., 125 F.SUPP. 713.

THE GOVERNMENT'S TELEPHONE REQUEST BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO EFFICIENT PRINTING TO VERIFY ITS LOW BID DID NOT FULLY INFORM THE LOW BIDDER OF THE REASON THAT A MISTAKE WAS SUSPECTED. SINCE THE LOW BID OF EFFICIENT PRINTING WAS CONSIDERABLY LOWER THAN THE NEXT LOWEST BID, THE GOVERNMENT WAS ON NOTICE OF THE PROBABILITY OF A MISTAKE, AND THE CONTRACTING OFFICER SHOULD HAVE ADVISED THE CORPORATION OF THE DISPARITY IN THE BID PRICES IN HIS REQUEST FOR VERIFICATION. 37 COMP. GEN. 786, 788. SEE ALSO B-158207, JANUARY 14, 1966; B-134428, JANUARY 16, 1958. SECTION 1-2.406-3 (D) (1) OF THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT THE "REQUEST SHALL INFORM THE BIDDER WHY THE REQUEST FOR VERIFICATION IS MADE -- THAT A MISTAKE IS SUSPECTED AND THE BASIS FOR SUCH SUSPICION; E.G., THAT THE BID IS SIGNIFICANTLY OUT OF LINE WITH THE NEXT LOW OR OTHER BIDS OR WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATE.' SEE B -163031, FEBRUARY 9, 1968.

SINCE THERE WAS AN INADEQUATE VERIFICATION REQUEST BY THE GOVERNMENT, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE BID OF EFFICIENT PRINTING DID NOT RESULT IN A VALID AND BINDING CONTRACT. ACCORDINGLY, NO LEGAL BASIS EXISTS FOR HOLDING EFFICIENT PRINTING LIABLE FOR ANY INCREASED COSTS RESULTING FROM THE AWARD OF THE CONTRACT TO THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER.